Tidy up of Horsham’s cemeteries underway

Councillors have been assured that a tidy up is under way at cemeteries in the Horsham district.

Cemetery in Denne Road
Cemetery in Denne Road

During a meeting of the cabinet, questions were asked about the condition of the council-owned sites in Denne Road, Guildford Road, and Roffey.

Roger Noel, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “This has been an unusual year, with the weather pattern we’ve experienced, for unexpected growth – not only in cemeteries but all over the district.

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“It’s been a real feat to keep everything under control.

“On top of that we’ve had one member of our staff sick over the summer and therefore we have been very stretched in keeping the cemeteries tidy.

“However, I have been assured it is totally under control now and that cemeteries are in the process of being tidied up.”

The news was welcomed by David Skipp (Lib Dem, Forest), who said: “I’ve had numerous people accosting me in the street and saying the state of the cemeteries is not particularly good.”

The council has just handed out a new seven-year grounds maintenance contract, which will include grass cutting and hedge trimming at the cemeteries.

Six bids for the contract were received and the winner will start work in February.

Tending 235 sites across 120 hectares, duties such as ditch clearance, waste bin emptying, weed control, shrub beds and football pitches will be on the ‘to do’ list. 

With one member of cemetery staff due to be TUPE’d over to the contractor and another on long-term sick leave, there were concerns that only two would be left to tend to the more sensitive issues, such as dealing with families and funeral directors and digging the graves.

But the meeting was told that burials averaged two per week.

Mr Noel said: “I think the two members will be sufficient. Unless we get a complete pandemic rush of deaths, I think that will be fine.”

He added: “The actual graves are the responsibility of the families to tend, to look after.

“The rest of the cemetery will be looked after under the terms of our grounds maintenance contract.

“Our staff will be able to oversee what’s going on and if there are any problems it will be reported back to us and we will deal with it appropriately.

“I’m sure I have every confidence in the winning contractor.”